Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cherry Juice, Sesame Seeds for Knee Pain?

As many of you know, I get daily Google alerts related to knee pain. They do a decent job of capturing what’s being said on the Internet, from the latest knee pain studies to random knee chatter in various forums.

Here’s the type of thing I get links to periodically that I usually delete without a second thought:
Q: I am 55 years old and suffer from arthritis in my knees. One day I decided to try some unflavored gelatin with tart cherry juice because my nails were not growing as well as they used to, and gelatin is said to be a good anti-inflammatory. Much to my surprise, the pain in my knees subsided substantially within a week!
Then, recently, I thought: Why not? Why not write about whether tart cherry juice, or sesame seeds, blunt knee pain? Heck, I’ve written ad nauseam about glucosamine.

Now, if this were a different time in my life -- a time when I could take three or four hours to leisurely read studies and conduct research -- I’d probably do a different (and longer) blog post on this subject. But these days, I have an 8-month-old and a 4-year-old, both of whom want to be held or played with about 10 hours a day. So I’ll leave it to all of you (if you’re so inclined), to uncover the double-blind medical trials. :) I’m going to approach this from a different perspective: strictly my own.

While living in Hong Kong, trying to heal my knees, I tried a LOT of things. Remember, healing my knees was my full-time job for a year (I quit my regular job). So I tried to leave no stone unturned.

I did try natural anti-inflammatories. My main choice: garlic. I had read great things about this bulbous plant and its powers to suppress inflammation.

So I began garlic-bombing my dinners. Seriously. However much garlic you’re supposed to add to a meal, I must’ve thrown in 5, 10, 20 times that amount. I have memories of sitting on a chocolate-brown couch, slicing up garlic cloves by the pouch. My wife (at the time my fiancee) fortunately had no strong aversion to men who smelled like garlic, or I’d probably still be single.

After eating a lot of garlic, and monitoring how my knees felt before and after consuming it, how much do I think garlic was responsible for reducing my knee pain? In all honesty: I never detected any benefit related to a high garlic intake. Maybe there was a benefit, but it was so slight I just never noticed it.

In any case, my skepticism about garlic/tart cherry juice/sesame seeds stems mainly from this experience. During my travails, I was pretty sure that garlic was the knockout anti-inflammatory, and it just didn’t work for me.

To be fair, maybe garlic’s failure had something to do with my physiology. Or something to do with the nature of my burning pain. Or, then again, maybe garlic actually doesn’t do much, but other substances (cherry juice, sesame seeds) really do.

I’m not completely sure. And it’s always good to keep an open mind. So if you’re feeling relief from any of the above, or something else, and it’s not turning your face green or your skin blotchy or ... well, whatever ... you might as well keep taking it.

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